Soliciting donations is hard work for any non-profit and it’s often made all the harder because the non-profit has not laid the appropriate groundwork in creating their brand image. This oversight usually ends up costing them donations in the long run. While non-profits need to create a brand to the same degree every other business does, here are 3 must-not-miss components of creating a donation-soliciting brand for a non-profit
The non-profit has to stand for something.
This is probably not overly difficult to figure out, but in order to solicit donations a non-profit actually has to DO something positive with the money. That means that there needs to be one clear, compelling reason for existence (normally called a brand), one way in which the world, community, or neighborhood is better because of the existence of the non-profit. And that one thing has to be communicated consistently with and without a request for donation.
- Your non-profit is a business. This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for well-meaning non-profits to grasp. That they are, in fact, a business. And as such, they need to engage in behaviors that normal businesses do. They need an accountant/bookkeeper to keep their finances straight, human resources understanding to keep them on the correct side of employment law, and you need a marketing advisor to build a brand, garner free PR, and stay on message.
- If you’re affiliated with a national organization that organization MUST help to create the brand. I know all politics is local, but it seems that many national non-profit organizations take the same approach to their national brand. The problem with this assumption is that the national brand leans on the local offices to create and deploy the brand. In a for-profit business, this would be the same as asking the manager of each location to develop and deploy a brand that is consistent with the brands that other local managers in other markets, that they may or may not know, are developing and deploying. This is a nearly impossible task and one that is almost sure to fail. Conversely if the national organization took their role seriously, they would create and support a national brand, and ask the local offices to support and extend it with a great degree of success.
Follow these three steps and your non-profit brand will have a strong position when it comes to soliciting donations to continue your good work.